Did You Know...I have HOW many cuticles?!

5:53 PM

OK so this is something I've wanted to address for awhile because it seems like when it comes to nail care, cuticles are the thing everyone is getting worked up about.  In a way, I can see why.  A great shaped cuticle compliments your nail art (or polish!) perfectly like a beautiful frame on a masterpeice.  But wonky, dry, mis-shapen cuticles draw attention AWAY from your work and not in a good way. So what exactly IS your cuticle? Well to start you need to know that you actually have TWO cuticles.

Say what? Yeah, TWO.  In a very technical sense, both your primary and your secondary cuticle are the same anatomical thing.  However, they are different and should be treated as such.  So let's take a look at them shall we?

Photo credit to Zadidoll.

 I tried to get a good picture of this but I keep my cuticles in really good shape for the most part and I just finished a series post for you guys so I have nothing really to photograph. The photo above does a great job illustrating this though. The reality is that, in the nail world neither of these things are REALLY a cuticle.  Because they are both cuticle.  The eponychium* shown above is commonly known as both the cuticle OR the primary cuticle.  This cuticle should not be cut unless it is absolutely necessary.  Many people nip them or have them nipped for aesthetic reasons but they're actually doing damage to your nails.  Your primary cuticle protects your nail from damage and also creates a watertight seal. You might notice that if you push too hard with your cuticle pusher, you end up with a 'gap' between the cuticle and your nail plate.  This means you have loosened the secondary cuticle. The secondary cuticle is also reffered to as the pterygium.  This is the cuticle which grows up your nail as the primary cuticle regenerates AND it's the cuticle you'll want to remove.  Think of it this way, removing your primary cuticle is a little like cutting your eyelashes off. You might think it looks really cool, but you're doing a great disservice to your eyes!  Removing your secondary cuticle is more like getting a trim every six weeks.  The ends are dead anyway and if you don't do it, you risk more problems and damage to your hair. See the difference?  So how DO you take care of your cuticles without nipping the primary cuticle?  Well that requires a good set of the right tools and a few great cuticle products.  I have a tools post coming up for you and since I've had some requests I'm also going to add a page which lists the tools and products I love to use at home AND when I work on clients.  So stay tuned for that!! Thanks for following!!

*Please note:  in the professional salon world it is common for the eponychium to be used to refer to live skin which surrounds your nail.  This is also eponychium BUT you should never ever cut it. You will bleed. It will hurt.  It's important to keep in mind that most people use the word cuticle to refer to it! :)

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  1. Very informative. I think now my hands are in better shape i need to tackle the secondary cuticle a bit more :D

  2. Brilliant post and looking forward to how to care for them best. Mine aren't in a awful shape but i don't feel like im caring for them in the best way x

  3. Great article!
    this actually helps me!

  4. The photo of the cuticle and the eponychium happens to be mine. :) I'm so glad people are finding it useful since I have been trying for years to get the word out that the real cuticle is a rigid growth under the skin surrounding the skin.

    -- Zadidoll

    1. Thank you!! I updated the photo to reflect that it belongs to you. :)


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